From Spectrum Bay News 9 – Gov. Ron DeSantis on Saturday said schools will not reopen in May. Meanwhile, state Democrats are calling on the governor to increase the maximum pay for unemployment benefits, which is among the lowest in the nation.
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On Saturday afternoon, DeSantis said he knows Florida families have differing opinions on their children returning to the classroom during the coronavirus pandemic. But he said that because distance learning is going well, it was easier for him to decide not to reopen schools in May.
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He says people across the country are watching how Florida is doing distance learning.
“You have huge participation; Florida has worked very hard to be a leader on that,” he said.
Distance learning has become the new norm since the coronavirus pandemic shut down schools across the state.
Not long after DeSantis made his announcement, some school districts weighed in, sharing the news with parents and students.
“There will be more details to come this week, and we will update you as we get new information,” Orange County Public Schools said in a message.
The school districts in Seminole and Hillsborough counties said in messages that they supported the governor’s decision.
Unemployment system problems ongoing
A group of Florida Democratic legislators, including state Sens. Randolph Bracy and Victor Torres and Reps. Anna Eskamani and Carlos Guillermo Smith, have pledged to fix the ongoing issues with the state’s unemployment benefits system.
Lawmakers wrapped up a Facebook Live call with constituents Saturday. Many have faced problems with the state’s online unemployment system, such as login issues and people waiting to get checks.
The Democrats want to ask DeSantis and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to guarantee full retroactive activity once a worker was laid off and committing to raise the weekly maximum amount of $275, one of the lowest state benefits in the country.
“The national average for state unemployment benefits is $385. I think that we should at minimum be advocating for that, certainly more would be better,” Smith said.
The legislators are also asking for the number of eligible weeks to expand from 12 to 26 and they want the website’s issues fixed.